Can exercise be a joy rather than a chore?

May 29, 2016

by freespiritedjen No comments yet · Leave a comment

For many of us the sole purpose of exercising is to lose weight or improve our body shape. If we skip a workout, feelings of guilt can slip in. And if we don’t really enjoy the activity, the habit probably won’t stick for long, leading to a cycle of punishment, guilt and feelings of failure. Does any of this sound familiar?

Exercising doesn’t have to be like this, I promise! We are designed to move our bodies and it really can feel like a joy rather than a chore, when you take the time to discover what really makes you tick.

Watch how excitedly a dog runs around the park – they have the natural ability to completely lose themselves in the movement, enjoying the sense of freedom and delighting in the wonders of their environment. They never think about the calories burned or how their technique looks to others! I think we can learn a lot from this.

All forms of physical activity can come with the same benefits associated with structured exercise, but with the added bonus of creating something, achieving something or simply enjoying being in the moment. It doesn’t have to involve a gym, or even structured exercise at all. It could be that music gets you motivated – try playing a few of your favourite tunes and just dance any way you like! Or you may love gardening and working towards creating a beautiful outdoor space. Ice skating is another activity that many find a fun challenge, or maybe for you it’s the sociability of a team sport that keeps you motivated. Anything that takes you away from the sole act of getting fit and into a space where you feel pure enjoyment, for a greater reason. So the fitness gains are a side effect rather than the only reason to do it. Perhaps remembering what you enjoyed doing as a child will point you in the right direction (and yes, playing is something we can benefit from at any age!)

Moving our bodies produces feel-good hormones called endorphins which lift our spirits (think “runner’s high”). Tuning in to this feeling can help us to want to repeat it on a regular basis. Of course, low energy is often an issue so eating healthy, life-giving foods and getting quality sleep go hand-in-hand with creating a state where movement is a positive experience. It takes time to make these adjustments, so please give yourself credit for any small changes you make, as every little step is a move in the right direction on your journey towards health and happiness.

So this week I challenge you to find a physical activity that you can really lose yourself in, where the feel-good factor is the primary focus, and fitness gains are a happy side-effect. Please share your experiences and thoughts here, I’d love to learn about what works for you. Enjoy!

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